Banfield: A Pet Hospital Horror

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banfield pet hospital

If you have a few hours to spare, check out the Banfield Pet Hospital page on the Consumer Affairs website. Seriously, we’re talking hours here folks, because what you’ll find is an endless pit of complaints by people who were left feeling far from satisfied, with pets who seemed worse-off after being taken care of by the national vet chain that’s found inside PetSmarts across the country.

Many people avoid chain stores like the plague, while others are a bit more tolerant. When it comes to your animal’s welfare, you might think that the name recognition and clout of a national chain (PetSmart and Banfield) is a plus, rather than going to a local vet. But if you read any of the complaints on the Consumer Affairs page, you might think differently.

What’s one reason people don’t like chains? The lack of personal attention certainly rates highly and that seems to be a common theme in the complaints vs. Banfield and their Wellness Plan. Banfield’s Wellness Plan has as many friends on the Consumer Affairs forum as Howie Mandel has hair…

There are countless testimonials claiming that Banfield ignored customers’ requests to cancel the Wellness Plan, meaning that these folks kept being billed monthly. One testimonial, from Susan of Wellington, FL, explains: “I specifically asked if I could cancel (the Wellness Plan) at any time, and the answer was yes. This is totally untrue, as they will continue to charge you until the year is up.”

This is the problem with large chains. They have protocol. They have processes. They often times don’t have the time to look at each of us as individuals. Sometimes a little heart (often shown by a local vet/business owner) will go a long way. Just listen to what PJ of Columbia, S.C. had to say: “The fourth month into my plan, my dog and I were hit by a car. Emma was unable to recover and passed away … I called Banfield to let them know about the situation and to see if I could get refunded any of the year that I had prepaid. The customer service representative said that if I canceled the account that they would charge me even more money …”

Is this technically wrong of Banfield to do? No, they run a business and are in their right to operate it as they see fit. But is it right?

No. Business isn’t always business. People (and in this case, animals) are involved. This is where chain operations fail miserably, time and time again, showing heart. Just that phrase alone – Customer Service Representative – rubs me the wrong way. This is my pet’s health we’re talking about! I want to talk to someone with a more humanizing title than Customer Service Representative. That’s just one step away from an automated voicemail service.

You might think that you save money by going to larger chains, and in some cases that might be true. But sometimes that’s not always the case. Complaints regarding Banfield include extremely high medication costs, nearly impossible-to-pay procedures, and (just as I see when I go to my national-chain dentist) the attempt to convince you of the need to get more procedures done than is required (the up-sale).

Are all local vets bound to be more inexpensive and caring than Banfield and other chain vet clinics? Not necessarily, but what you will usually find in a vet clinic that only has itself to answer for is the ability to be more flexible with you and your specific situation. More flexibility (in our minds, as consumers) means compassion. With national chains, there’s too much protocol put into place to allow for flexibility. No flexibility means no compassion, as we see it.

You might save a few bucks on your TV, or a few cents on your gallon of milk, by going to a chain store. But your pet’s more important to you than either of those things, right? In a world where every city’s beginning to look the same because of streets aligned with the same chain stores from LA to Long Island, why not support your local vet? In the end your pet might be better off for it.

6 COMMENTS

  1. WOW!
    That is very disheartening!! I did loads of research on the
    individual vets in my area, and the one I talked to that had the most english bulldog
    knowledge was actually a Banfield Vet. We’ve been with them for 12 years
    and absolutely LOVE Dr. Ravi at the Orange Park, FL location. There has
    been a couple of occasions that we’ve had to use other local Banfield
    locations and they were AWFUL!! So I firmly believe that Dr. Ravi,
    Miranda, and Kyle are what makes my location awesome!! We have
    pet insurance through my husband’s job as well as the Banfield plan and
    have saved over $8,000 just in the last 2 years with my bully baby and
    my pomeranian. I would never go to another Banfield location, but mine
    seems to be the exception to the rule. We had their Wellness plans on our boston terriers and had no problems cancelling when one of them passed away. Again though, we don’t call the 800 number for the plan, we deal with our local location and have had no problems!!

  2. like Carol i think my location is an exception to this article as well. the Banfield located in Watchung, NJ is amazing. ive been with them for 6 years since my black lab was 8 weeks old and have had absolutely no problems. they’ve always treated both me and my pets with nothing but care, kindness and compassion. when we got my shih tzu and had him neutered the cost of the surgery including the medications were extremely affordable i almost couldn’t believe it myself. my pets are always greeted with love, kisses and belly rubs and they adore the vet techs/veterinarians in return. i personally wouldnt judge the Banfield Vet chain (or assume local vets are better) based on this article, ive had to go to a few local vets over the years but my experiences with them were less than satisfying. like all things there are exceptions and clinics should be chosen with care. some local vets are much better than the Banfield in that same area, but the same could be true the other way around. i would say to experience them first hand before writing either one off

  3. I can relate to this article. This is an awful company. Clearly Banfield is a profit center for Petsmart as they are 20% owners in the venture. I’m certain Petsmart isn’t donating space in there stores to care for all their customer’s pets.

    Take your pet to a reputable local veterinary clinic where the vet and staff are in the business of CARING for animals instead of churning out PROFITS for shareholders.

    The fact that they charge a prescription writing fee if you don’t want to pay their exorbitant medicine prices tells me all I need to know. I’ve never had a real doctor charge me for a prescription. Incredible.

  4. The vets and staff at Banfield on Feedwire Rd near Dayton, Ohio has been very good to my pets. They generally work with my budget and understand when I can’t do what they recommend. They are always willing to help.

    That said, they are pressured by the parent companies to sell more services at high prices. Their computer automatically sets appointments and procedures. I’ve gotten a few surprise calls that my pets were scheduled for expensive procedures the next day. Needless to say, they weren’t done, and the animals turned out fine anyway.

    I give a lot of credit to the individual vets who aren’t looking to make a buck and just do the best they can. They have literally saved the lives of several of my pets, and I will forever be grateful.

  5. I had a horrible experience at a Banfield in NJ with my french bulldog who has many health issues. The staff was rude, unhelpful and condescending towards me… They were much more interested in taking my money than helping my dog. Although I had moved, I decided to keep going to my old, local vet whom I had used for years, even though she is now a much longer driver for me. My pet’s health is more important than a business transaction, and I feel much more comfortable with with their quality level of service and compassion.

  6. I’d argue that not all Banfields will be terrible, however, we all tend to enjoy the benefits of personal attention with our health, vs. going to a major corporation-like environment, so consider that when it’s time to take your dog somewhere. I think that Melissa Epp nailed it well when she said that although her Banfield is good, the company as a whole is pressured by the parent companies.

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